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Many Canadians letting COVID-19 precautions slide, feel threat is overblown: survey

Washing your hands with soap and water. (CREDIT: JKerner, Pixabay)
Summary

A majority of Canadians polled say they're letting precautions that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 slide

Proper social distancing has fallen off the most (37%), followed by mask wearing outside the home (33%)

Almost one in four people surveyed believe governments and public health officials are exaggerating the threat posed

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Are you starting to let your guard down when it comes to social distancing or frequent handwashing?

It seems a majority of Canadians are letting COVID-19 precautions slide, with a significant number feeling the threat is overblown.

The latest poll from Leger and the Association of Canadian Studies finds almost one in four polled by Leger (23%) believe governments and public health officials are exaggerating the threat posed by the coronavirus and the need to rigorously follow measures meant to stop its spread.

A quarter of respondents still make comparisons to the seasonal flu.

Whether it is skepticism or COVID-fatigue, the poll suggests more than half of Canadians (57%) have relaxed when it comes to one or more public health safety measures.

Proper social distancing has fallen off the most (37%), followed by mask wearing outside the home (33%), not gathering in large groups (31%), and frequent handwashing (30%).

A second wave and rising concern

However, fear of the virus is on the rise with 63% indicating they are afraid of contracting COVID-19. That is an increase of seven points from last week.

There is also a significant chunk of the population – slightly more than one-third – who feel their province has entered a second wave of COVID-19.

A Winnipeg epidemiologist who advises government on health policies says Canadians should brace for more restrictions if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

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Cynthia Carr says a second wave would cause widespread concern because it would signal mutation and perhaps even a change in the behaviour of the virus.

Canadian governments have been cautiously monitoring daily infection rates as economies restart and students return to school.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week the last thing anyone wants is to shut down the economy again to counter a second wave, while stressing vigilance against spreading COVID-19.

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Doctor Bonnie Henry, ordered the closure of nightclubs and banquet halls last week and Quebec police are handing out tickets to people who don’t have face coverings where they’re mandatory.